Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL will publicly admit the officials in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game missed obvious pass interference by Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman on the New Orleans Saints’ penultimate possession of regulation.
Robey-Coleman hit Tommylee Lewis well before Drew Brees‘ third-down pass arrived, and the Saints settled for a 31-yard field goal after the officials didn’t throw a flag. The Rams then drove 45 yards to force overtime with a 48-yard field goal before winning the game 26-23 in the extra period on a 57-yarder by Greg Zuerlein.
The NFL won’t be the only one to admit there was a mistake, as even Robey-Coleman told Sports Illustrated‘s Robert Klemko: “Yes, I got there too early. I was beat, and I was trying to save the touchdown.”
He did more than save a touchdown and altered the 2018 season. A flag would have given the Saints the opportunity to run the clock down and kick a potential game-winning field goal toward the end of regulation to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl. But instead, the Rams will represent the NFC on Feb. 3 in Atlanta.
Sean Payton told reporters he had already discussed the play with the league office, which told him it “blew the call.”
He also said, “I don’t know if there was ever a more obvious pass interference call.”
Referee Bill Vinovich said he didn’t see the play and called it “a judgement call by the official,” per Amie Just of the Times-Picayune.
The Saints and their fans will surely take little solace when the NFL does publicly say the officials made such a mistake in Sunday’s contest, as the blown call likely cost them a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. It was also their second straight year suffering a heartbreaking loss in a playoff game, as the Minnesota Vikings beat them in last season’s NFC Divisional Game with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on the final play.